Brette Svensson, DNP, MSN, AGPCNP-BC
Post-Acute Services Medical Director, Wellstar Health System
Full-time nurse practitioner dedicated to a single partner skilled nursing facility
DNP – Georgia State University
BSN and MSN – Emory University
Describe a day in your life.
I spend most of my waking work hours in the nursing home. As a dedicated nurse practitioner (NP) to a single facility, myself and one physician are responsible for the primary care of all patients in that building, which is currently about 110 elders. Every day I begin by prioritizing the most urgent patient issues, visit the highest-risk patients, and collaborate with multiple disciplines.
As Post-Acute Services Medical Director, I support our department of eight partner facilities which includes eight full-time NPs, two PRN NPs, and seven physicians. I was appointed to this position in Summer 2021 and, as a leader, it’s been quite a big learning curve. This position places me in a unique role to oversee systematic processes, recruit and develop initiatives to benefit the department, and promote quality patient outcomes.
I am also fortunate to be involved in the Wellstar Family Medicine Residency Program. Medical residents rotate through the skilled nursing facility throughout their 3-year program and spend 1 month with me during their second year, allowing for geriatric and nursing home-specific education opportunities.
What inspired you to work in geriatrics?
In the MSN program at Emory, I spent my last semester with an Optum (back then, Evercare) NP. I admired her dedication to geriatric patients and fell in love with the environment and patient population. I remember thinking how much I wanted to work in the nursing home and was incredibly fortunate to land this job in 2013. I am passionate about the care of people living with dementia, palliative medicine, and end-of-life. Some of my fondest memories are of my nursing home team helping patients and families achieve comfortable end-of-life care and dignified death.
How do you see the field of geriatrics evolving in the future?
Geriatrics will continue to grow rapidly as our country’s population ages, lives longer, and new medical therapies emerge. Innovative approaches to geriatric care will arise as we face the challenge to provide quality care, reduce rehospitalizations, alleviate financial burdens to the healthcare system, and respond to patient needs. We are already seeing new approaches moving away from fee-for-service and care models like the homes opened by GAPNA member Ron Ordona!
What is the favorite part of your job?
I love dancing with my patients. We are never too old to get down and boogie.
What are your hobbies/favorite activities?
My husband and I spend a lot of time fostering cats and kittens! I also enjoy hosting my church community group, baking, riding the Peloton bike, and eating snacks (I call it pandemic-related snack attacks).
Where do you hope to be in 5 years in your career?
I enjoy my daily routine, but I hope to be more involved in higher-level planning at Wellstar to improve integration of geriatric principles throughout the health system, and help post-acute care become better known as a specialty.
How and why did you get involved with GAPNA as a leader?
Many mentors encouraged and challenged me to step out of my comfort zone. I have been a GAPNA member for 10 years. The association provides me with wonderful opportunities to not only improve myself as a practitioner but develop leadership skills. My career would not be where it is today without GAPNA, its resources, and its members. Whenever I feel burned out, I only need to chat with a GAPNA colleague or attend a conference and my spirit is renewed.
I must give a hearty mention to Carolyn Clevenger, Katherine Evans, Alison Schlenger, and Stacey Chapman who cultivated my growth in the Georgia Chapter and continue to be mentors. I could mention so many more individuals!
Anything else you’d like us to know?
I am an open book. Anyone who wants to talk about GAPNA, geriatrics, or any topic of interest is welcome to contact me!